ASUU Strike: Yar’Adua’s Consent Delays Agreement

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The Federal Ministry of Education has stated that its inability to secure the consent of President Umaru Yar’Adua has prevented it from acceding to the demand of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The education ministry also said the inability to secure the presidential consent is affecting talks with the budget office and salaries and wages commission.
Education Minister, Sam Egwu, however, told the Senate Education Committee, Tuesday, that the agreement being alluded to by ASUU is actually a draft document.
ASUU, President Ukachukwu Awuzie, who briefed the Senator Joy Emodi-led Committee earlier, reiterated that there was an agreement signed with the government two and half year ago on how to resolve the crisis.
The indefinite strike called by ASUU has entered its second week and officials of the union and the Minister of Education, Sam Egwu, Tuesday appeared before the Senate Committee on Education shortly after the ministry met with the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Egwu told the committee that what was delaying the signing of the agreement was that President Yar’Adua wanted an approved, enduring and sustainable salary structure for the striking university lecturers.
“There is no concrete agreement on salary, we are waiting for the president’s consent to determine the exact amount to pay”, he said.
Furthermore, Egwu also told the committee that the issue of new salary was the only critical issue delaying the agreement, saying “it is because it involves the budget office; Salaries and Wages Commission”.
The minister also told the committee that as part of government’s effort at resolving the crisis, an inter-ministerial committee, which had just concluded its assignment, was set up to work on the new salary structure.
“But before the Inter-ministerial Committee ended its assignment, the ASUU went on strike, but we are now about to invite them to a meeting and reach an agreement”, Egwu said.
Egwu had earlier in the day met with the leadership of the PDP led by its National Chairman, Vincent Ogbulafor, where he informed them that “a realistic and sustainable” solution was being worked out by the government.
He informed the party leaders that government had agreed to increase the salaries of the striking lecturers to a realistic and sustainable level, but that though government has acceded to increase salaries of the striking lecturers, the percentage increase will fall short of the 109 per cent increase they are demanding.
“They only issue that is outstanding is salary.
The are asking government to pay academic staff 109 per cent over what they are receiving now. In other words, over 109 per cent should be their new salaries.
“Government is saying in as much as there is nothing bad in paying academic staff that amount, it has to be something that is realistic and sustainable, something that they can pay today and tomorrow and pay next tomorrow, something that they can pay and be happy that they are also touching other needs of the country and that is where we are now.
“I want to assure you that before the end of this week we shall call ASUU and tell them that this is realistically what government can pay and what they can sustain .“The president has approved that there should be an Inter-ministerial Committee to look at this salary issue because, as you are talking about salary for ASUU, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is also talking about salary increase for every member of public service. The other unions, the medical workers are also demanding for increase”, the minister stated.

Rivers State Deputy Governor, Engr. Tele Ikuru (left) receiving from Senator T.B. Wada, the Mid-Term Award for Excellence in Governance 2009 by the Western Publishing Company Limited, Publishers of Nigerian Compass Newspapers on behalf of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, recently.
Rivers State Deputy Governor, Engr. Tele Ikuru (left) receiving from Senator T.B. Wada, the Mid-Term Award for Excellence in Governance 2009 by the Western Publishing Company Limited, Publishers of Nigerian Compass Newspapers on behalf of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, recently.